Fatty liver , also known as non-alcoholic fatty liver (NAFLD) or liver steatosis, is a widespread disease that affects up to a quarter of the population. It is most common in Western countries with high-fat and high-sugar diets, and its rise parallels the rise of obesity and diabetes.
When most people think of liver disease, they usually think of alcohol, but studies have found that fat accumulation unrelated to drinking can still cause great damage to liver function. Just as other parts of the body can accumulate fat, the liver can also accumulate excess fat. When fats are stored too much, they become toxins to the liver and cause liver function to decline.
The relationship between sugar and liver
Although there are many factors that affect liver health (more on that later), studies have shown that there is a clear link between sugar intake and fatty liver . In particular, fructose seems to promote liver disease because it is exclusively metabolized by the liver. Even for people of normal weight, sugar can cause fat accumulation in the liver.
In small amounts (such as the amount of fruits and vegetables consumed), the liver can easily process fructose and the body can use it effectively. However, in processed foods and diets high in added sugars, these high levels of fructose can be converted into fat (lipogenesis). In terms of affecting liver health , a large amount of Sugar is as bad as alcohol.
Risk factors and comorbidities
Although many people with fatty liver don't even know they have it (usually found first in a routine blood test), it can sometimes cause abdominal pain and feelings of fatigue or nausea. NAFLD can be transformed into non-alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), which is characterized by liver inflammation, which is more aggressive and destructive. On average, 20% of NAFLD patients will develop NASH. This may develop into scar tissue in the liver (fibrosis), which may replace healthy tissue (cirrhosis), leading to liver failure or liver cancer.
- Belongs to obesity category
- Have excess belly fat
- Have been diagnosed with diabetes or insulin resistance
- Suffer from high blood pressure
- High cholesterol levels
- Have metabolic syndrome
Sugar consumption can cause many of these risk factors , and a high-sugar diet can exacerbate many of these comorbidities.
5 simple steps to reverse the disease
Although there is no “cure” or medication for NAFLD, there are steps you can take to reverse the disease and treat the contributing factors.
- Reduce weight by eating healthy and increasing physical exercise. Only 3-5% weight loss can have a positive effect on liver health
- Limit salt, sugar and saturated fat
- Avoid drinking alcohol
- Use non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs and over-the-counter drugs with care
- Manage comorbidities such as diabetes, high blood pressure or high cholesterol
Of course, prevention is the best medicine. A healthy overall lifestyle helps keep your liver in good condition. Choosing a healthy diet, getting enough exercise, avoiding refined sugars and saturated fats, and maintaining a healthy weight are the most important.
For optimal liver health, avoid sugar and other foods that can cause fat accumulation in the body and its organs. By taking care of your organs, they will continue to take care of you-allowing you to live a healthy and happy life.